Ayodhya case under scrutiny in India's top court

 India's Supreme Court will hear arguments Tuesday on whether to delay a ruling on a flashpoint religious dispute that has created major security worries ahead of the Commonwealth Games.

The court last week ordered the Allahabad High Court to postpone its judgement on the long-standing ownership struggle over the site in the northern town of Ayodhya where Hindu zealots destroyed a mosque in 1992.

The postponement came after retired bureaucrat Ramesh Chand Tripathi appealed to the Supreme Court for a stay on the judgement to allow for a negotiated settlement.

"We will try and tell the court the matter should be deferred further and the parties involved in the dispute -- the religious leaders -- asked to sit and solve the matter amicably," said Mukul Rohatgi, lawyer for the petitioner.

Indian schoolchildren hold placards on the eve of the Ayodhya ruling, in Mumbai on September 27.

There have been deep concerns the Ayodhya ruling could spark wide unrest.

The razing of the Babri mosque in Ayodhya in 1992 triggered some of the worst communal violence since the partition of the Indian sub-continent in 1947.

More than 2,000 people, mostly Muslims, were killed in the rioting.

Since then, the 47-acre (19-hectare) site has been cordoned off with barbed wire and steel fencing and guarded by troops.

Hindus say the mosque had been built by the Moghul emperor Babur on the site of a temple marking the birthplace of the Hindu warrior god Ram.

The petition before the Supreme Court had said the Allahabad verdict posed a particular security risk at a time when India's concerns are focused on the October 3-14 Commonwealth Games in New Delhi.

The drive to build a Ram temple on the ruins of the razed mosque remains a key political aim of the main opposition Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which first came to national prominence over the Ayodhya issue.

India has avoided any major outbreak of Hindu-Muslim violence since riots in Gujarat in 2002 and is keen to keep a lid on any unrest during the Commonwealth Games.

The Games are already in turmoil with problems ranging from shabby accommodation to security fears and an outbreak of dengue fever.

One of the main Hindu parties to the Ayodhya land title dispute, Nirmohi Akhara, a Hindu charitable trust, said Monday it would add its voice to pleas for a deferral in a bid to seek an out-of-court compromise.

But other Hindu and Muslim bodies have ruled out settlement and said the judgement should not be delayed further.

"The issue cannot be resolved through negotiations as negotiations have not been able to bring about any result so far," said Zafaryab Jilani, lawyer for one of the Muslim groups.

source AFP

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